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After more than a year of bruising campaigning, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton went toe-to-toe for the first time on Monday night.

Coming into the first presidential debate of the 2016 election, the Republican and Democratic nominees were in a virtual dead heat. 

Will this evening’s ratings-shattering event change that?

Suspense, and the stakes, have been building for weeks.

In an increasingly competitive and historic election, the anticipation could not be greater and the unpredictability could not be higher.

Put that all together and the previous debate record of 45 million viewers (Obama vs. Romney, 2012) could be doubled. Yes, doubled.

Two months from now, the showdown at Hofstra University in New York may go down as a watershed moment in U.S. political history.

Can Clinton, the first major party female nominee and one-time heavy favorite now clinging to a narrow lead in many polls, right the ship?

The Democrat was widely expected to become the 45th President as recently as July, but Donald J. Trump has thrown a wrench into that.

From the moment he announced his bid for the Republican nomination, the reality star and businessman has been a true wild card.

No one other than his true believers took him seriously.

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Trump was written off so many times, and committed so many "this is the end of his campaign" blunders, we lost count. By February.

His opponents assumed he’d eventually self-implode. Ask the other 16 Republican candidates who competed against him how that worked out.

Clinton, however, represents a much tougher foe.

Sucking the oxygen out of a room filled with wannabes is one thing. Can he conquer a one-woman political dynasty one-on-one next? 

Hillary’s strategy was to knock Trump off balance and force him to stick to facts instead of his trademark vague, outrageous statements.

Trump’s was to bring his unconventional, unfettered style to a traditional venue, convincing the American public that he’s up to the job.

So who prevailed in this epic tilt? You tell us.

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